Peer Mentoring Program Launched at Richard Montgomery High School
Pilot pairs freshmen with upperclassmen to ease transition from middle school
BY CAITLYNN PEETZ | Published: 2019-09-09 17:35
A pilot program at Richard Montgomery High School is pairing upperclassmen with incoming freshmen to help younger students acclimate to high school.
Twelve juniors and seniors are available as mentors to help freshmen with their transition from middle to high school, often an emotionally stressful time for students.
The program is led by Kim Burgess, a clinical psychologist who specializes in treating children and adolescents. The goal, Burgess said, is to provide freshmen with coping mechanisms to deal with stressors in academics, athletics and social lives. The mentor groups will meet and explore healthy and productive use of social media, school work productivity and efficiency.
Based on a larger research project at the Pediatric Psychology Center in Rockville, the pilot includes twice-monthly lunchtime meetings where freshmen can ask questions in a group or one on one, Burgess said.
The pilot program’s launch comes amid National Suicide Prevention Month, during which organizations, nonprofits, and community and government leaders raise awareness about preventing suicide and promote mental well-being.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the suicide rate among U.S. youths, ages 10 to 17, increased 70 percent between 2006 and 2016. The CDC says the suicide rate among girls ages 15 to 19 doubled from 2007 to 2015, reaching its highest point in 40 years.
Richard Montgomery mentors receive student service learning hours for participating and were chosen at the conclusion of an extensive interview process. Each mentor has communication and leadership skills, Burgess said, and received about 20 hours of training.
“This program is important because this stage in adolescents’ lives is crucial for their development. There are many opportunities for them, yet at the same time, there are numerous stressors and challenges for them to handle,” Burgess said. “How they adapt to and deal with all these adjustments is key to how they fare healthwise and emotionally every day, as well in the future.”
Montgomery County Public Schools this year launched a countywide initiative called “Be Well 365” that promotes students’ physical, social and emotional well-being, according to school system officials. The initiative incorporates activities to promote physical health, mental health, problem-solving and bullying prevention, among others.
BHIP Takes Aim at Teenagers’ Stress, Anxiety, Executive Function, Interpersonal Skills, and Overall Mental Health
Pilot study shows comprehensive health program significantly improves adolescents’ functioning.
ROCKVILLE, MD. (PRWEB) OCTOBER 09, 2019
As World Mental Health Day 2019 dawns this Thursday, October 10th, groups of Montgomery County middle school and high school students have improved neuro-cognitive executive skills to enhance learning and academics, are better able to handle stressors, utilize relaxation techniques and physical fitness, and apply lifelong social/interpersonal, leadership, problem-solving and coping skills, due to an innovative program called BHIP: Biopsychosocial Health Intervention and Prevention. Timely research conducted at the Pediatric Psychology Center, Rockville, Maryland shows that BHIP’s comprehensive health program significantly improves numerous areas of adolescents’ functioning.
Developed by Principal Investigator and Clinical Psychologist Dr. Kim Burgess, Ph.D., BHIP’s programs were offered during transition periods of middle school and high school when children are adjusting to many challenges and changes in school environments. For example, freshmen face not only the more rigorous academic and athletic requirements of school, but also friendship and social concerns, social media stressors like cyber bullying, and peer pressure related to drugs and alcohol.
"The ability to deliver an efficient youth mental health program within societies’ health care constraints, yet also provide evidence that this program is effective, means a powerful intervention and big step forward in prevention science."
Collaborating with Co-PIs and Professors Paul Hastings, Ph.D. and Julie Bowker Ph.D. to test BHIP’s effectiveness utilizing pre- to post self-assessments, they achieved significant positive changes in a range of areas:
➣ Neurocognitive executive functioning - improved impulse/ self-control and metacognition, which help self-regulation and problem solving;
➣ Social/interpersonal skills with peers/friends, parents, teachers and coaches, including higher levels of communication, cooperation, empathy, self-control, and being responsible;
➣ Social media knowledge and appropriate use;
➣ Emotion regulation, including improved ability to change emotional response to situations by reinterpreting and reappraisal, so they can cope better with adversity;
➣ Physiological responses indicating that they may have become more attentive to emotional situations.
Notably, parents on average reported that their children showed:
➣ More responsibility; Improved interpersonal/social skills including communication, cooperation, empathy, and self-control;
➣ Reduced behavioral and conduct problems;
➣ Lower total problems (for example, with inattention, anxious/depressive symptoms, bullying others)
The ability to deliver an efficient youth mental health program within societies’ health care constraints, yet also provide evidence that this program is effective, means a powerful intervention and big step forward in prevention science.
BHIP (Biopsychosocial Health Intervention and Prevention) was created and developed by Dr. Kim Burgess, Ph.D. Co-Principal Investigators are Professors Paul Hastings Ph.D. (UC-Davis) and Julie Bowker Ph.D. (SUNY-Buffalo). This cutting-edge course helps middle and high schoolers to handle stressors and learn lifelong skills that will ease their transition through the most challenging and stressful times of their development. BHIP’s mission is to intervene and prevent kids from experiencing unhealthy levels of stress, anxiety, frustration, mood changes, loneliness, and struggling or becoming overwhelmed with their academic and social lives.
World Mental Health Day, which focuses on suicide prevention this year, is organized by the World Federation for Mental Health and is supported by the World Health Organization, the International Association for Suicide Prevention, and United for Global Mental Health.
Local high school puts emphasis on student mental health
When it comes to mental healthcare and education, Dr. Burgess says accessibility is key.
by: Randi Bass
Posted: Jan 21, 2020 / 07:33 AM EST / Updated: Jan 21, 2020 / 07:33 AM EST
ROCKVILLE, Md. (WDVM) — Over 2,000 students spend their days learning and socializing at Richard Montgomery High School. Aside from their academic performance, there’s a new focus on the overall health of students — including mental health.
Dr. Kim Burgess, the psychologist behind the program, said, “the rates of anxiety, depression, violence, suicide are increasing and it’s alarming.”
Dr. Burgess, of the Pediatric Psychology Center in Rockville, created a program that allows upperclassmen to connect with freshmen and support them through their transition into high school
Joshua Coster is a junior at RMHS, he said “I definitely wish I had this program when I was a freshman, I would have shed a lot fewer tears because the transition to high school is very hard.”
Students today face a different set of challenges than their parents did when they went through high school.
“High school is really hard, and I think it’s a lot harder than it used to be, and we have a lot of really highly motivated students across our academic programs, so it can be a bit of a pressure cooker,” said Nancy Shay, who runs the International Baccalaureate program at RMHS.
When it comes to mental healthcare and education, Dr. Burgess says accessibility is key.
Sara Logsdon is a mentor in the program, she said, “You kind of can’t advertise it like ‘this will help you with your transition,’ because no one’s really going to go out of their way to help themselves with their transition. They might not even admit that it’s a hard one. You have to appeal to the freshmen like ‘this is a place to hang out, this is a place that’s cool,’ like where you can have fun.”
“The first meeting was all the freshmen and a bunch of juniors and seniors, and it was really a beautiful thing to see them sharing their emotions with one another,” said Shay.
BHIP Club Relieves Stress
Amanda Wu, Features Writer
December 10, 2019
Whether it is balancing work for AP classes with practices for winter sports or finding time to study for the SAT while working a part-time job, RM students are trekking through some of the most rewarding yet most difficult times of high school.
Balancing academic and personal success can be overwhelming at times. Thus, every other Tuesday in room 253, BHip Club (pronounced ‘Be-Hip’) creates a community that can ease students’ stress and help them feel a little less overwhelmed at school.
During their lunch meetings, a group of trained peer counselors welcome newcomers and regulars alike to pull up a chair and join their group conversation covering any variety of topics.
Photo courtesy of Ms. Shay
Every other Tuesday, students gather in room 253 to discuss stress and share advice.
Providing a wide range of counseling, from academic tips to mental health guidance, these RM students are willing to give their advice on any subject or just lend a listening ear.
Club sponsor and IB coordinator Nancy Shay said, “[The club’s] main purpose is to give students opportunities to talk about issues that are important to them with other students who are going through it themselves or have gone through it fairly recently. Sometimes students are so much more comfortable talking to peers than to adults.”
Though it is a new initiative that just kicked off this school year, the BHip Club is gaining traction among many RM students and has plans to expand far beyond its current bimonthly meetings.
Recently, members of the BHip Club have visited homerooms during Rocket Time and collected questions from students seeking advice on school-related challenges, ranging from ‘How do you earn SSL hours?’ to ‘How do you deal with school drama and relationships?’
Many of these questions will be answered in the future. “We’re going to be recording and televising answers to some of these questions and maybe get them out once a week,” Ms. Shay said.
“My freshman year would have been better if I had a resource like upperclassmen giving me some insight and advice on topics like how to avoid procrastination, how to get involved with clubs, etc.,” club president and junior Julia Craig said. “So, I like how I can help others figure out how to deal with their situations since it would’ve been helpful for me when I was a freshman.”